Maximum Wellness with Max Well
“It all started with lentils,” said Maxwell Eaton owner of Max Well, a plant-based restaurant in New Orleans. Plant based, vegan and healthy are not descriptions that generally come to the top of ones mind when describing the food scene in New Orleans. In fact, I would say the complete opposite comes to mind with the blend of French, Spanish, Caribbean and Cajun influence New Orleans has to offer. Gumbo, Po’boy sandwiches, jambalaya, oysters Rockefeller, beignets and bananas foster all embodies this unique culture that will tantalize your taste buds. Oh and did I mention butter? Because everything tastes better with butter and they truly have capitalized on this point.
With a mission to obtain the best vegan food in New Orleans I met with Maxwell Eaton, owner of Max Well restaurant off of Magazine Street, whom is capitalizing on the opposite of this rich cultural cuisine. With the objective to build a balanced menu this self-made chef and entrepreneur has shifted from his music career and into the wellness industry. In December of 2017 he brought to life his health passion by creating the physical location of Max Well. His concept for Max Well is simple, “Pick a salad, pick a protein and pick a dressing.” Everything on the menu is full of color, it’s plant based and quite frankly it’s “an infallible healthy menu - you can’t order something that will cause you harm. Everything is healthy on the menu.”
What I love most about Max is that his passion radiates throughout the entire restaurant. The design is modern, refreshing and clean with pops of color. We are attracted to color naturally and Max has exquisitely showcased this in both his food and the restaurant. So what is the chef’s favorite item on the menu? “Lentils and broccoli soup with a salad and almond basil dressing,” says Maxwell. And I can validate that his almond basil dressing tastes quite good on any veggie dish, salad or on the lentils.
But what about protein?
As a vegan, one of the most common questions I get is, “How do you get your protein?!” And the same goes for Max being a vegetarian and even more so owning a plant based restaurant. He is constantly facing the battle of educating the general public about vegetarian based proteins. One of the best sources for plant-based proteins is to start with lentils. And that’s exactly what Max started with. They are high in protein and other essential nutrients such as potassium, iron and some antioxidants as well. And what is even more special about lentils is they are low on the glycemic index, which means they won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar. More importantly, Max is trying to shift this concept of vegetarians and meat eaters being on opposite sides of the wall. The concept of “you eat meat only” and “you eat veggies only” needs to dissolve. Everyone from a health standpoint should have more vegetables in their diet. Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a plant-based meal. Many meat eaters on a weekly basis have meatless meals and don’t make a fuss over it because they are not putting a label on their food calling it vegetarian. I think this is what is great about Max Well. The restaurant is not in your face about being plant based, it’s just full of color and naturally we are attracted to that. I promise all of you, if you try Max Well you won’t be left feeling hungry or dissatisfied, and you won’t miss the meat.
As a vegan I am always curious about other people’s journeys to a more plant-based lifestyle. My own journey was based on health issues with an unfortunate diagnosis of Hashimotos, which is a thyroid autoimmune disease. As for Max, he got here from personal experiences and a conversation with his body. Living the music lifestyle which consists of late nights, not the best choices in food and drink and a perpetual hangover. He one day realized this lifestyle was not conducive to maintain a healthy mind, body and soul. With the motivation of bettering his body he took it upon himself to trial and error a multitude of his own plant-based recipes until each recipe was perfected to his liking. Overall he is looking to get “long-term satisfaction over the short-term desire.” With a plant-based mindset Max reprogrammed his senses of satisfaction, which ultimately led him to feel satisfied and happy to have a healthy meal. This lead me to my next question:
“How should humans eat?”
Max believes that food should be more preventative than curative and at Max Well the menu largely reflects that. With dishes that have every color of the rainbow, cold pressed juices and all organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts these dishes are packed full of polyphenols. “It’s easier to think of food as preventative rather than curative because by the time you go to the doctor you are already sick. It’s about trying to prevent before hand the result of what might happen.” People always want a quick fix but Max Well promotes more of an adapt to a plan and stick with it. If you don’t stick to a plan you will never fully reap its potential benefits – “marginal effort, marginal results or maximal effort and maximal results.” In the future Max Well hopes to provide people with evidence and reaffirmation in their choices to be more plant-based. Hopefully in the future Max Well will be able to provide more food demonstrations such as vegetable noodles, sprouting seeds and juicing as well teaching how to grow your own food through a small hydroponic farm area. Max recognizes the detachment our society has from what the earth provides to us and one day he hopes to bridge this gap.
Just another girl who is trying to inspire others. Passionate about health and fitness. And a love of coffee and peanut butter.